Ferguson tells cup hero Foster the future is his
Sir Alex Ferguson has moved to assure Ben Foster that his time will come as Manchester United's number one after the keeper's man-of-the-match performance in Sunday's Carling Cup final.
Foster played a key role in ensuring United's bid for an unprecedented quintuple remains on track, crucially making a save to deny Jamie O'Hara in a 4-1 penalty shoot-out triumph over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
Despite his showing the 25-year-old knows he will be dropped in favour of Edwin van der Sar for Wednesday's Premier League trip to Newcastle United as the Red Devils look to consolidate their position as odds-on title favourites.
However Ferguson has been quick to assure Foster he is in line to replace the veteran Dutchman.
''The future is his,'' said Ferguson. ''The present belongs to Edwin van der Sar, that's obvious. But, given that experience in a final, it strengthens my belief Ben will be England's goalkeeper for the next number of years.
''He is a very strong character. He has to, to have come through two cruciate knee injuries. It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice to get through that and recover to do what he did today''.
Ferguson's fulsome praise for both Van der Sar and Foster could leave United's other keeper, Tomasz Kuszczak, feeling somewhat left out, but as the manager said: "It is difficult to keep them all patient. But there's no other way.''
After the penalty shoot-out Foster revealed that at the end of extra-time he prepared for spot kicks with goalkeeping coach Eric Steele by using an iPod to work out what techniques the Spurs players were likely to use.
''We have done a lot of research into the way each player is going to put their penalty,'' he said. ''We went into the shoot-out as well prepared as possible.
''We have had things to look at over the last couple of days and before the shoot-out, you can see me looking at an iPod with Eric Steele. It had actual video on it and showed where players put things.''
Foster admitted that he had never seen anything like it when Steele introduced the research aid to training after being appointed as goalkeeping coach following predecessor Tony Coton's decision to step down due to a knee injury in December 2007.
''It is a new innovation for us,'' he said. ''Eric brought it when he came to the club. I have never seen anything like it. It is a fantastic tool for us.''
Given United are now seven points clear in the Premier League, with a game in hand, it seems only the FA Cup and Champions League need to be won in order for Ferguson's team to eclipse any previous single-season achievement in the game.
However, while the Scot knows it can be done, he feels the odds remain on his side coming a cropper somewhere along the line.
''It would be great to think we could do it, but my experience says we could go to Fulham next weekend, there will be a deflected shot off someone's backside and we're out of the FA Cup,'' he said.
''I won't get carried away with it and the rest of the players will keep their feet on the ground.
''The best thing we can do is gather ourselves, energise ourselves for Newcastle on Wednesday, which will be a very difficult game for us, and go from there taking it one step at a time.''